September 20, 2012 | 4:00 PM
They grew up in Texas, went to college in New York City, made their first short film in Brooklyn, and became the darlings of the Abu Dhabi International Film Festival with their feature film debut, Ok, Enough, Goodbye. Rania Attieh and Danny Garcia made a beautiful first feature shot in over 30 locations in Tripoli, Libya on the strength of their early short films. It's a familiar route: Make a short that gets some buzz, get noticed, and then make a feature.
The winners of Four Stories could have a similar task at hand: Take the success of a short film, and turn it into another opportunity, a new story to tell. Rania and Danny leveraged their buzz and got a feature deal out of it. Could the winners of Four Stories do the same?
Here's a list of four shorts that launched the careers of the filmmakers behind them.
Bottle Rocket (1991): Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson
Getting a break in the film biz isn't easy, but making a good (short) first impression certainly helps. Just ask Owen Wilson and Wes Anderson. The two University of Texas screenwriting students hustled money together from their folks to finance Bottle Rocket, the short, in 1991. The film was accepted to Sundance, got a tepid reception, but captured the attention of James L. Brooks, who helped them finance the feature-length version of the movie. The two would go one to write Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums, and team up as director and star in The Life Aquatic and The Darjeeling Limited. What was the only Wes Anderson film that Owen Wilson wasn't involved in? Moonrise Kingdom. Roman Coppola, the creative force behind Four Stories, co-wrote that with Wes.
Milton (1991): Mike Judge
As Beavis and Butt-Head creator Mike Judge well knows, memorable characters are central to any good script. The series of animated shorts Milton, from 1991, introduced the world to the mumbled ramblings of a pathetic office drone. The Milton films, which aired on Saturday Night Live and on Comedy Central, opened the floodgates to two decades of ingenious animation. Beavis and Butt-Head and King of the Hill had long, memorable runs on MTV and Fox, respectively, but it was Milton that led Judge to live-action filmmaking: The 1999 cult comedy feature Office Space. While Milton is just an ancillary character to Office Space's story, he is exemplary of the drudgery of office life that the film rails against. There's a little bit of Milton in all of us. Where is our collective stapler?
The Dirk Diggler Story (1998): Paul Thomas Anderson
As a seventeen year old, Paul Thomas Anderson made a 31-minute short mockumentary called The Dirk Diggler Story. That character would eventually become the protagonist in Paul's 1997 feature Boogie Nights.
Peluca (2002): Napoleon Dynamite's Jared Hess
Made for about $500 in 2002, the nine-minute black-and-white short Peluca set the stage for the outsider comedy Napoleon Dynamite. The character names are different, but the strength of Jon Heder's oddball performance opened up doors for the independent comedy.
La Jetée (1962) becomes Twelve Monkeys (1995)
The 1962 sci-fi featurette by Chris Marker was the basis for Terry Gilliam's 1992 feature Twelve Monkeys. The films have different directors, so this short-to-feature doesn't quite qualify, but they are both great films.
Check back to watch the original films of the Four Stories Competition and decide if you think any of these Four Stories might make for a fine feature.